UPDATE 1-Pentagon awards $2.6 billion to build trucks


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WASHINGTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. Pentagon said on Tuesday it awarded more than $2.6 billion worth of contracts to BAE Systems Plc , Force Protection Inc and a Navistar International Corp unit to build another 3,126 mine-resistant vehicles for U.S. soldiers.

The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles are designed to protect U.S. soldiers from roadside bombs, small arms fire and other explosive threats, the Pentagon said in its daily list of defense contracts.

The new MRAPs, contracted by the Marine Corps, are scheduled to be completed in June and July of 2008. Production of the vehicles, which have a V-shaped hull and armored plating, has been ramped up to protect allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than 1,200 MRAPs are already in use by U.S. soldiers, the Pentagon said.

The contracts awarded on Tuesday will boost the total number of MRAPs to 11,941 by mid-summer, it said. The military plans to acquire a total of 15,374 MRAPs.

The biggest of the contracts, worth nearly $1.2 billion, was awarded to Navistar's International Military and Government LLC unit for building 1,500 MRAPs and providing support materials.

BAE Systems Land & Armaments unit won a $645 million contract to provide 600 MRAPs, the Pentagon said.

Another BAE unit, Armor Holdings, won a $458 million contract to build 668 MRAPs. BAE acquired the company earlier this year.

A fourth contract for building a total of 358 MRAPs -- of two types was awarded to Force Protection for $378 million, the government said. (Reporting by Julie Vorman; Editing by Andre Grenon)



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